Google ADT-3: Android TV on a dongle you shouldn’t buy

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Earlier this year, Google released the ADT-3 Android TV dongle to developers, but this time around, there were really no restrictions on who could pick one up. Since this is one of the first Android TV dongles on the market, it got a lot of people excited! However, I’ve had one on hand for a while now, and really, you shouldn’t buy it.

Google ADT-3: How’s the hardware?

The most enticing part of the ADT-3, unlike most Android TV devices, is a compact dongle like a Chromecast or Roku/Fire Stick. That’s cool, and honestly, a good reason you might be interested in buying. The ADT-3 handles this form factor well, too.

The ADT-3 dongle is only marginally larger in size than the Google Chromecast dongle, but with a boxier design. There is no HDMI cable attached, but there is a separate cable included in the box. This little extra flexibility is definitely appreciated as it opens up the device to more settings. Walking around the devices, there is an HDMI-in port, a microUSB port that is used to transfer power and data, and a “reset” button.

Google Adt3 Android Tv 4

In the box (which is as normal as can be) Google’s power cable has two USB-A ports, one for power and one that, I believe, can be used to transfer data. I haven’t had a chance to test it, but presumably this second cable can be used to connect the ADT-3 directly to a computer for application testing. After all, that’s kind of the purpose of this whole thing.

Google Adt3 Android Tv 8

How is the actual build quality? This isn’t really important to a dongle developer, but it’s not impressive by any means at all. The plastic body feels cheap—though it’s not creaky—and the general fit and finish aren’t that great. Again, though, this is not important as what this product is.

performance? Askey built the ADT-3 on top of the quad-core Amlogic S905Y2 processor and backed it up with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. I’d be a little annoyed with the storage if this were a consumer product, but the performance itself is very good! Services like YouTube, Play Movies, and Disney+ played along with my other Android TVs, and the 4K picture quality was the same as well.

Finally, there is the remote control. It’s so good! Google’s ADT-3 remote control reminds me of the one that comes with Xiaomi’s Mi Box S, but the slightly thicker design feels better in the hand. However, it was clearly built on the cheap and just to get the job done. With that in mind, though, it’s a lot better than I expected.

Android TV 10 is just… Android TV

The biggest reason I was excited to get my hands on the ADT-3 from Google was to experience Android 10 on the TV. Well, I got frustrated. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with Android TV 10, it’s the exact same interface as Android TV Pie. No meaningful UX changes I could find here.

The hope for better software support was not fulfilled here either. I only had one update on the ADT-3 while using it, but as of writing this article it’s still running Android 10 with the February security patch.

Screenshot 20200409 164702

Yes, that’s Stadia over there. More on that here.

Losing Netflix would be a deal breaker for most people

Performance and Android TV are pretty much the same on the ADT-3 as any other device that uses the platform, so why not buy it? The biggest reason for many people is to support the app. ADT-3 can download most apps from the Google Play Store, but this does not include apps that must be manually approved.

In short, there is no support for Netflix or Prime Video on the ADT-3. Disney+, Hulu, and YouTube all work perfectly fine on this device, but the vast majority of people shouldn’t buy this device for lack of Netflix alone because, honestly, this is one of the most popular services on the market!

Screenshot 20200409 164745

The real Android TV dongle from Google is very close

This is the real reason not to buy the Google ADT-3 Android TV dongle – it’s only the first step. Google’s Android TV looks attractive, but then again, this is just a developer device. the TRUE Google dongle is just around the corner.

As we reported earlier this year, Google is planning a late revamp of its Chromecast Ultra that integrates Android TV and adds a remote control to the device. You can be sure that the device will ship with better hardware, support for Netflix and Prime Video, and maybe even some other cool features like USB-C!

The point is, no one should buy ADT-3. It’s a fun device to play with, but unless you’re a developer who needs a device to make their apps work with Android TV, don’t buy the ADT-3. If you are in desperate need of an Android TV dongle here, right now, you will be better served by the AirTV Mini.

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